Our family took our biggest leap of faith yet. To campervan New Zealand is the first piece to our dream. Then, we have one way tickets to Thailand to live in a jungle house, and then we get one way tickets to … still undecided. Still listening to the wind.
Why leave the comforts of home and those we love? We have a dream. Our dream is called Adventure Family. We love traveling abroad as a family, and we want to empower other families to do the same through Adventure Family, a family travel show off the beaten path. You can watch a teaser video for our show and read more about our plans. 254 incredible backers helped us launch this dream with Kickstarter.
With two cameramen in tow, we packed up our belongings, put our home on the market, and bought one way tickets to New Zealand. We gave up our sweet home that sat five blocks from the water to have a home on wheels for three weeks. Should you? Packing up and selling our home … maybe, maybe not. But making New Zealand a destination for your own adventure family is a MUST! Here are 17 reasons to make your next family vacation a Campervan New Zealand experience!
Reason #1: Adventure Creates Joy for the Whole Family!
Of all the thousands of photos and footage Brian and I shot throughout our campervan New Zealand experience, this first photo is still one of my favorites. The sheer joy and excitement on both Blaze and Brian’s face, before we’ve even left the Britz parking lot, sums up the goodness that happens when we adventure as a family off the beaten path.
Education Is Irreplaceable! 1 of 16
Before we left for New Zealand, the kids spent time learning about the country's geography by drawing maps, coloring in cities, identifying mountain ranges, rivers, etc. The education that our campervan experience inspired (before we even got there) is irreplaceable! Did you know that New Zealand is closer than you think? From Los Angeles you can get a direct flight on Air New Zealand that is thirteen hours long. Air NZ was our favorite airline of the three we used. Stay AWAY from Jet Star. Their luggage fee policy is INSANE!
New Zealand Scenery Is Unbeatable! 2 of 16
I'm prone to getting super car sick super fast. This alone made me hesitate with the whole campervan idea. But I NEVER got carsick, and I think the unbeatable scenery had something to do with it! Everywhere you drive in New Zealand, there is breathtaking scenery.
Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Shot with the SONY 7R
Lucky Mountain High 3 of 16
When I was a young girl, our family had a campervan. I can still remember driving past thousands of Pacific Northwest evergreen trees. And then my Korean father would put his John Denver 8-track in and play Rocky Mountain High. For years, I thought the words were "Lucky Mountain High" after hearing my dad sing the song at the top of his lungs in his perfect, authentic broken English. I'd sit in the back, close my eyes and let the wind blow through my hair. Reason #4: Wind in Your Hair!
Experience Driving on Wrong Side of the Road 4 of 16
I say it's the "opposite" side of the road, but when Brian pulled out of the campervan parking lot for the first time, he was convinced that he was driving down the "wrong" side of the road. Learning to drive a campervan is an experience in itself, but driving it down the opposite side of the road in New Zealand is a thrill you will NEVER forget!
Epic Tree Swings 5 of 16
Nine out of ten places we camped for the night had the most epic tree swings you've ever seen. The trees are magical in shape, size and texture. It's no wonder that Peter Jackson picked New Zealand to film Lord of the Rings. Watch all those movies before you come because I guarantee you will feel like you are camping on the magical movie set ALL the time!
Best Spots Only Accessible by Camping 6 of 16
Thirty percent of New Zealand is now national parks. This means that the BEST spots to watch a sunset, to take in the scenery, to recharge and play as a family, are all spots that you access with a campervan versus hotels. Isn't that awesome! No hotel lined beaches! You pull your campervan into whatever spot looks most inviting! No reservations required. Minimal camp fees. Super clean hot showers available at all the parks. What else do you need? You may think more. I did. But in truth, we had more than enough. This amazing sunset was at HaHei Beach on the north island.
Communal Kitchens Where the World Meets 7 of 16
Most nights, we parked our campervan in a Top 10 Holiday Park. These campervan parks are something I wish we had in the states! Hot showers and the coolest communal kitchens where you meet the world! If you need a break from cooking in your campervan, you bring your food to the communal kitchen. Many of the kitchens are stocked with plates, silverware, and knives. But best of all, you meet travelers from all over the world as you share stove tops together!
Kids on Kitchen Duty 8 of 16
While you share a glass of wine with your new friends from around the world, the kids get kitchen duty! Most Top 10 kitchens have dish soap and sponges ready for you to use.
You Need Less Space Than You Think 9 of 16
Britz suggested the Frontier model: 6 berth campervan. Perfect size! The back, where I'm sitting, turns into a bed. The dining table in the middle of the campervan turns into a bed. And there is a queen size bed above the driver's seat. Britz provided linens, dishes, wineglasses even, and more! We didn't have to worry about hauling the necessities from the states to New Zealand. A home on wheels is not the size of a home that we are all used to, but there was something super liberating about simplifying our life to whatever we could fit in the campervan.
Open Cupboards: My Favorite Detail 10 of 16
My favorite detail was all the cupboard space. They can fit way more stuff than you would think! One cupboard housed all our homeschool materials. Two cupboards had all our food. One kept our linens. When we weren't driving, I kept all the cupboards open because it reminded me of our kitchen's open cupboards back home.
School on the Road! 11 of 16
If you are going to take the family all the way to New Zealand, you might as well stay as long as you can. I thought three weeks would be a lot of time, but there is so much to experience and see. At times it felt like three weeks was only scratching the surface. We met families who were doing the same thing but spending anywhere from several months to a year in New Zealand! My favorite part of the day is when we were in between meals, candle lit, and kids drawing, working on school, reading. Does it get any cozier?
Dine in the Great Outdoors 12 of 16
Want a beautiful setting for your breakfast? With 30% of the New Zealand being national parks, the locations are unlimited!
Rainy Days? Sweet As! 13 of 16
We only had a few days of rain. New Zealand's seasons are the opposite of our seasons, and they are headed into their winter months. But when it rained, no worries. "Sweet As" as the locals say which means "no worries" (but not to be confused with "Sweet Ass" as Brian learned the hard way). Rains came, we lit the candle, grabbed our favorite books and cozied up together. 🙂
More Storage Than You’d Think! 14 of 16
Filming a show is NO JOKE. Filming a family travel show is like witnessing a miracle take place. Picture all the stuff you bring when your family goes on vacation. Picture what you would pack if you were going to live out of your suitcases for the next several months. Picture SEVEN bags of camera gear on top of that! Twelve bags total! Somehow it all fit in the campervans. They have hidden storage spots EVERYWHERE! You think you have to much luggage? Think of us, and you'll think again!
Go Anywhere! 15 of 16
This is another favorite photo. The rolling green hills behind us were breathtaking. Sheep, cows, and deer grazing in the hills. A landscape that helps you exhale. When you campervan New Zealand, you can go anywhere and everywhere. There aren't many countries that support this kind of family travel, but New Zealand takes pride in seeing to every detail and keeping it cost effective. Our family definitely reaped the reward of experiencing it first hand.
Canterbury Province, New Zealand
Shot with SONY a7r
Lifelong Memories 16 of 16
Right before we left, my mama gave me a photo of me and my two younger brothers from when we were kids. The three of us are playing on our parents' bed in the back of our family campervan. That back bed was the coziest place in the world! We would wrestle, tickle each other, laugh, and try to convince our parents we should sleep with them because we were just to far away in our beds (despite the fact that we were all in the space of a campervan).
I took the photo to New Zealand. At times I found myself deep in thought, looking at the majestic scenery, looking at that single photo and remembering home. We have left all that is familiar behind. Yet somehow, I was closer to one of the greatest joys of my childhood than I'd ever been. And I had brought my kids there too. It reminds me of T.S. Eliot's words;
"We shall not cease from exploration
And in the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
Read more about the beginning of Adventure Family here!
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